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knitfroggy's avatar

Do you feel bad for laughing at people you shouldn't be laughing at?

Asked by knitfroggy (8936points) April 26th, 2009

There is a guy in my town that dresses like a woman. This isn’t so uncommon, I’m sure. This dude is so remarkable tho. He’s literally close to 7ft. tall and probably doesn’t weigh 135lbs. He is so tall and skinny he reminds me of one of those stick bugs. Anyway, he wears all sorts of weird clothes and shoes. Pantyhose with skulls on them and a denim mini skirt with no shirt, purple shiny halter tops, fur coats in the winter, just all kinds of different stuff. He lives in a dirt room shack with three dogs and rides a bike all over town. People have made myspace and facebook pages of this guy (they’ve since been taken down). He is a sensation in this town.

I get happy when I see him, so I can see what he’s wearing or doing. He rides his bike all over town when the weather is nice and chances are you can see him everyday. I get a kick out of watching him-we call him Tranny Steve. Is it wrong for me to laugh? Do you think it makes me a bad person? He’s either crazy or burned up on drugs, there are lots of different stories that go around about him

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18 Answers

asmonet's avatar

What’s so funny about it?
So he dresses and lives differently, whatever.

Would you feel bad laughing at an Indian woman in a sari?
Maybe his clothes have a reason behind them too.

I wouldn’t laugh, I’d be intrigued, but I do not think I would laugh.

upholstry's avatar

I’d laugh too! But not to his face. And I don’t think it makes you a bad person, because people who are obviously trying to stick out like a sore thumb should expect to elicit a reponse from those around them. If it’s laughter, then it’s laughter. I’m guessing some of the guys in your town would like to kick the shit out of him, so at least your response is peaceful :)

@asmonet an Indian woman in a sari is not funny. I understand that you’re saying that, yeah, he’s different, so you shouldn’t laugh, but some differences are just naturally comical

knitfroggy's avatar

@asmonet Naw I wouldn’t laugh at an Indian woman-maybe at an Indian man dressed as an Indian woman, I don’t know. I guess it’s funny cuz he’s so damned tall.

Thank you @upholstry! That’s why it’s so funny, I think. I’ve seen other cross dressers or trannys (unsure of the the correct word) and don’t find them humorous.

asmonet's avatar

@knitfroggy: So, you would openly laugh at a Hijra?

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I don’t tend to laugh at people simply because they’re different. Some of them wear and do crazy stuff, yeah, but it usually just brings a smile to my face. The world needs more characters. They brighten my day simply for being themselves and not caring what other people think.

cyndyh's avatar

Every town has its characters. I can find some of them interesting. I worry for some of them that harsh weather may be the end of them if they seem really unaware of their surroundings. I keep my distance from some of them that strike me as unpredictable. But I don’t tend to laugh at them.

I tend to find more “normal” people and behaviors funny.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

I would feel bad if I laughed at someone for something they could not help. If they cause something themselves then I wouldn’t feel so bad.

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes, I feel bad when I realize I hurt someone’s feelings. Sometimes laughing is an impulse.

Jack79's avatar

to answer the original question, no, I don’t laugh at people

But Tranny Steve seems like that extreme type that probably tries to provoke laughter. It’s not some sort of deformity, but his choice to provoke social norms and dress codes. I also dress sort of weird (ok, not mini skirts, but I don’t follow fashion rules). People have often laughed at me too, and I simply don’t care. I’m sure he doesn’t either.

I think there’s a difference between people who are what they are by choice (Elton John’s glasses) and people who can do nothing about it (birthmarks, scars etc).

In my town there are three cases:
1) the “Goonie Sisters” are now well in their 50s with long white hair. They always had stunning bodies, but not much to look at neck up (including the contents). They are identical twins and ride around in identical bikes, wearing identical clothes (skirts in the middle of winter), have very high-pitched voices and speak very fast in a language nobody understands. I used to know their brother, quite a normal kid, but they are really really weird.
2) A really scary madman in my neighbourhood who pretends to be a traffic warden. He jumps out into the middle of the road and directs traffic. He has a very scary glint in his eye, makes you really think he’s going to kill you. Surprisingly, he’s never harmed a soul in 60 years. Which is why they let him wander free. Kids often tease him and I usually try to help him out by chasing them away.
3) “Spinner”. Completely harmless, sort of slow. Walks in the street and whenever someone says “spin”, he makes a 360 degree twist and goes on his way. He helps out at the local church.

knitfroggy's avatar

@Jack79 Love the Elton John reference. I have a pair of bright orange glasses and a pair of hot pink/rhinestone glasses that crack people up. Some people at work call me “Elton” or Orangie. I love the glasses and I know they are outside the norm. I don’t mind if they chuckle, because it’s good natured and no one means anything by it…they know it’s just who I am. And if they don’t like them, they can line up and kiss my ass. I guess that’s why I don’t feel bad for laughing at Tranny Steve-I mean him no harm.

GoldieAV16's avatar

It depends on whether you mean “laugh at” as in mocking, or “laugh at” as in find him amusing. If I’m mocking him (“oh, wouldn’t it be even funnier if he did a face plant right now?!”), then I’d say yes, I’d feel bad. But if I find him amusing, and enjoy his differences, and seeing him makes me smile, then I wouldn’t feel bad, because that’s how I view most people.

knitfroggy's avatar

@GoldieAV16 I find him amusing. I wouldn’t say I laugh at him as in laughing out loud, although I have. Mostly I just enjoy watching him and mean him no harm. My grandma would love feed him and talk to him, but she never will because she is kind of scared of him.

Facade's avatar

I would’ve laughed at the guy too. Not because I’m mocking him, but because it’s funny.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I feel bad if caught laughing and it’s hurt someone’s feelings. This was a topic of conversation last night while people watching with a friend downtown. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with laughing loud enough to be heard at a woman with a waddly butt in a tiny dress as she walked by while I thought it was cruel and he should’ve waited until she was out of our proximity to snark to me and keep the laughter between us.

Facade's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence That lady was asking for it though

tiffyandthewall's avatar

if i did find him funny, i wouldn’t laugh in front of him or anything. i might laugh about it – not in a mean spirited way, just because i’m amused – but i’d do so where i wouldn’t offend him. just because he’s different and should expect some negative responses doesn’t mean he should have to receive them.

Likeradar's avatar

I wouldn’t laugh. If this person makes you smile, I’d smile and wave at him. Not laugh. You’re not laughing with him- you’re laughing at him. How should he know what the laughter is for? He doesn’t know if you’re laughing to mock or because he makes you happy and interested.

How would you feel if you did something that made you feel like you were being true to yourself, but other people found it odd and laughed at you?

bea2345's avatar

Laughing at a person has implications. It is one thing if, like my youngest brother, someone dresses up in his sister’s clothes and does an impromptu mime on the front step. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen – he was 15 at the time. It is quite another to laugh at a depressive whom everybody called Alice, because he always walked and talked like a woman. He was a seriously ill man, and my parents frowned at any jokes at Alice’s expense. He was quite harmless.

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